skip to Main Content

An Abbreviated Timeline of a Problematic Standard: the GDP

1937: Simon Kuznets, an economist at the National Bureau of Economic Research, formulates a new way to calculate the economic output of individuals, companies, and the government in a single measure: Gross Domestic Product, which is the value of all the goods that a country produces each year. 1944: The newly formed World Bank and…

Listen to “Keeping the Beat: Custom-Made Conducting Batons”

A good conductor can lead an orchestra with almost anything — even a chopstick. Leonard Bernstein was known to conduct a full symphony with just his eyebrows. Why, then, in this age of cheap manufacturing, are handmade, customized batons still in demand? Written by JEFF GREENWALD Introduction by PAULINE BARTOLONE Narrated by JEFF GREENWALD Produced…

Listen to “The Play Gap”

In the inner city neighborhoods of Providence, Rhode Island, Janice O’Donnell set up playgrounds where kids could build anything they want, and break anything they want. She has been stunned by what everyone has learned in the process.

Watch “The Future Is Handmade”

A Dutch archaeologist finds artisans and thought leaders who are redefining craft, skill and, ultimately, the real meaning of a knowledge economy. A Craftsmanship mini-documentary.

Introduction to “The Future Is Handmade” — A Craftsmanship Mini-Documentary Film

A Dutch archaeologist finds artisans and thought leaders who are redefining craft, skill and, ultimately, the real meaning of a knowledge economy: a short film presented by The Craftsmanship Initiative, in collaboration with The Centre for Global Heritage and Development.


Carving in Stone: Where to Go for Sculpting Classes

The National Sculpture Society’s executive director, Gwen Pier, has found that Fred Brownstein—the marble sculptor profiled in our Winter 2023 feature, “The Sculptor vs. The Robots“—is being joined by more and more sculptors who love doing figurative work. “There has been a swing back,” she says. In the 1950s, there was a rebellion against figurative…

Straw Bale Construction: The Ultra-Ecological House

Every few years, discussions about using straw bales as a building material come up again. As our environmental challenges mount—from wildfires to hurricanes—straw bales seem to offer a sustainable answer. And as we in the American West seem to find ourselves in “fire season” earlier with each passing year, it’s time to ask: Has the humble straw bale’s moment finally come?


Listen to “The Human Cost of Recycled Cotton”

Organic, recycled, or synthetic: As the fashion industry scrambles to find more sustainable textiles, what’s the future of cotton? And what is the true cost? Editor’s note: This story was updated from the original by the author for re-release in our Fall 2021 issue.

The Human Cost of Recycled Cotton

Everyone in the fashion world wants to find a more sustainable, environmentally friendly way to make cotton clothing—or a benign (and equally comfy) alternative to it. In Scandinavia, an enterprising cadre of materials scientists is on the brink of succeeding. But almost no one appreciates these innovations’ social costs.

Story and photography by ALDEN WICKER